[Weekly Review] | May 20, 2014, by Hardy Calvert | Harper's Magazine

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Outrage over a miners’ strike in Turkey, a rough week for female newspaper editors, and camel-kissing in the face of MERS

Harper’s Magazine, March 1876In Turkey, a fire inside a coal mine near the Aegean town of Soma trapped and killed 301 workers. Five Turkish labor unions called for a strike to protest the deterioration of safety conditions following the privatization of state-run mines a decade ago, and prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivered a speech to the relatives of dead and injured workers in which he described mining accidents as “ordinary things” and listed similar occurrences in other countries, starting with Victorian England. Four executives of Soma Coal Mining Company were arrested, an aide to the prime minister kicked a protester who was being held down by security forces, and Erdogan was recorded threatening a demonstrator. “What happened, happened,” he said. “If you boo the country’s prime minister, you get slapped.”[1][2][3][4] In India, 550 million people voted in parliamentary elections that brought the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party of prime minister–elect Narendra Modi to power following ten years of rule by the Indian National Congress.[5][6][7] Rioters in Vietnam, angered by a Chinese naval buildup near an oil rig China towed three weeks ago into waters near the disputed Paracel Islands, burned and looted at least 15 foreign-owned factories, some of them South Korean and Taiwanese. “Anything with Chinese characters,” said a manager at a Singaporean factory, “they attacked.”[8][9][10][11][12] Ukraine’s wealthiest man, coal and steel magnate Rinat Akhmetov, announced his belief that the eastern region of the country, where he employs some 300,000 people, should remain part of a united Ukraine. Following his statement, steelworkers formed patrols in five eastern cities, including the steel-producing port of Mariupol, where they cleared government buildings of separatist supporters of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. “Everybody can have their own opinion,” said a steel-mill shift boss, “but not at work.”[13][14][15][16]

Natalie Nougayrède, the first female editor-in-chief of Le Monde, was forced to resign after seven senior editors quit over her plans to revamp the print and digital editions of the paper, and Jill Abramson, the first female executive editor of the New York Times, was fired for what publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. called “a series of issues, including arbitrary decision-making.”[17][18][19] Barbara Walters, who in 1976 became the first woman to co-anchor an evening-news broadcast on U.S. network television, retired, and was joined for her final appearance as co-host of The View by Hilary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, and 25 female broadcast journalists. “These are my legacy,” said Walters of the journalists. “Instead of goodbye, I’ll say, ‘À bientôt!’ ”[20][21] North Dakota appealed a district-court ruling that overturned a ban on abortions after the first sign of a fetal heartbeat.[22] Appeals courts in Arkansas and Idaho approved, then stayed, lower-court decisions overturning their states’ bans on same-sex marriage, and Utah’s supreme court ordered a stay on several district-court decisions requiring the state department of health to issue birth certificates for babies adopted by same-sex couples who were legally married during a 17-day window between a district-court ruling overturning Utah’s same-sex marriage ban in December and a stay on that decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. “A stay,” said a spokesman from the Arkansas district-attorney’s office, “prevents confusion.”[23][24][25][26] A court in Khartoum sentenced a pregnant woman to 100 lashes for adultery and death by hanging for apostasy after she refused to leave her Christian husband, then postponed the punishments until after the baby’s birth, and three dozen wildfires burned across 10,000 acres outside San Diego, fanned by early-season Santa Ana “devil” winds. “It was reminiscent,” said San Marcos resident Gay Walker, “of something apocalyptic.”[27][28][29]


Floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia killed at least 35 people, triggered more than 3,000 landslides, and dislodged landmines laid during the Yugoslav Wars.[30][31][32] Argentinean paleontologists unveiled fossilized remains from a new species of titanosaur that weighed as much as 85 tons, making it the largest dinosaur ever discovered, and Australian biologists reported the discovery of the oldest fossilized sperm cells on record, 17-million-year-old giant sperm found inside tiny ostracod shrimp.[33][34] Police in the southeastern Australian town of Derrinallum reported that the town’s cemetery trust had requested an excavation to ensure that a man who blew himself up in April during a standoff with police hadn’t booby-trapped his wife’s grave, where he often slept.[35] A pipe burst in Atwater Village, California, leaking 10,000 gallons of crude oil and forcing the evacuation of a strip bar called the Gentleman’s Club, and a Pennsylvania rabbit breeder sued a French oil-and-gas exploration company whose helicopters she said had frightened her bunnies to death.[36][37] An Egyptian court told three Al Jazeera English journalists on trial for conspiring to foment unrest that they would have to pay $170,000 to see video footage being used as evidence against them.[38] An Indiana man who recently returned from Saudi Arabia was diagnosed with the first documented case of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome in the United States, and farmers in Saudi Arabia, where nearly 500 MERS cases have been reported so far, posted YouTube videos of themselves kissing their camels in response to a government campaign warning that the disease could be contracted from consuming raw camel liver or unpasteurized camel milk. “Do sneeze,” said one farmer to his camel, “in my face.”[39][40]

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